SUMMERFUN: Spice of the Good Life at Annual Chile Festival

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    On those brutally-hot summer days through July and August, a piping hot bowl of chile — be it red, green or whatever — probably isn’t really high on your list of cravings.

    But come September, as summer nears its end and fall approaches, that steamy helping of green chile probably sounds pretty great.

    The folks at Nick’s Garden Center in Aurora know this well.

    NicksChileFestWEBEvery year, in the middle of September, they host Nick’s Chile Fest.

    If you already have a finely-honed chile technique, it’s a chance to put your secret recipe into competition with some other local chile masters. The sea of crockpots is a welcome sight for any chile lover looking to try the best chiles local chefs have to offer.

    Last year, they added a salsa category so if you whip up a mean bunch of mango habanero that you think ranks up there with the best in town, lug a batch over to Nick’s at 2001 S. Chambers Rd.

    Winners of both competitions get a cash prize, last year the big prize was $150 for the chile winner.

    If you’re just getting started in the spicy and smoky world of chile, they’ve got something for you, too. The staff of chile lovers at Nick’s will teach you the finer points of peeling, seeding and packing your peppers so you can freeze them and have them taste just right for all those batches of chile you’ll be cranking out through the winter months.

    And the cooking demos go well beyond standard chile. Last year’s event had courses on enchiladas and various salsas, too.

    Check with Nick’s later in the summer for an exact date, last year’s was Sept. 12.

    Nick’s Garden Center & Farm Market: 2001 S. Chambers Road, Aurora. 303-696-6657 or www.nicksgardencenter.com

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